After being subjected to a series of criticisms from Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New Jersey Devils owner Jeff Vanderbeek has fired back.
On Friday, Vanderbeek took issue with a number of Booker’s claims, which came after arbitrators ruled in favor of the Devils in a long-running dispute with the city over arena parking revenue. Angered by the decision, Booker called Vanderbeek a “high-class huckster” and alleged he’d been denied tickets to a Bruce Springsteen concert at the Prudential Center because he went public with his critiques.
“It’s concerning that after choosing to take the Prudential Center to court and then have the court ruling that they needed to go to arbitration, and taking it to arbitration, that after that ruling the mayor chooses to not obey the law of the land but seems to be following Booker law.
“Our concern is that in a city like Newark where we are trying to set a platform to draw private business in, that businesses are going to think twice when they think about the risk of coming into Newark.”
According to reports, the Devils haven’t paid rent for the Prudential Center since 2007 because of the parking revenue dispute. The arbitration ruling ordered the city to pay $2.7 million per year in parking money to the team and, combined with other payments and fees, the city now owes the team about $15 million.
Booker was still visibly upset about the situation when reached for comment on Friday.
“[Vanderbeek] claimed to be an altruist and that he wanted to help the community, but he went on finding every legal way imaginable to squeeze out of every commitment,” Booker said. “This just shows the character of the man, that he’s more concerned with squeezing every possible dollar off the table.”